Novak Djokovic may be able to play at Roland Garros after Covid decision

Novak Djokovic’s bet that countries would start easing their vaccination requirements in time for him to compete in major tennis tournam...


Novak Djokovic’s bet that countries would start easing their vaccination requirements in time for him to compete in major tennis tournaments has started to pay off.

French authorities announced on Thursday that the country would no longer require visitors to present proof of a Covid-19 vaccine to enter indoor establishments after March 14, most likely paving the way for Djokovic, who was the player of highest ranked tennis in the world so far this week. , to defend his championship at Roland-Garros this spring.

A French Open spokesperson said the tournament plans to follow government regulations in place at the time of the tournament, which begins on May 22.

Djokovic, who confirmed this year that he had decided not to get vaccinated against Covid, was expelled from Australia in January, after immigration officials decided he posed a danger to society because he could energize an anti-vaccination movement in that country.

Djokovic had received an exemption to enter Australia even though he was not vaccinated as he produced a test result showing he had recently recovered from Covid-19 in time for the Australian Open. The exemption has angered many Australians, who have faced some of the toughest pandemic restrictions in the world over the past two years. The expulsion prevented nine-time Australian Open champion Djokovic from defending his title.

Instead of receiving a vaccine so he could return to top-level tennis, Djokovic doubled down on his stance against vaccination mandates. In an interview with the BBC last month, Djokovic argued that the decision to get vaccinated should be a personal choice. He said he was ready to miss the biggest tennis tournaments in the world to keep control of his body.

“The principles of deciding on my body are more important than any title or anything,” Djokovic said in the interview, which was his first since the controversy in Australia.

Djokovic was the only top-100 ranked player in Australia who had not received a Covid-19 vaccine, which experts say will not eradicate the virus unless most of the population gets one. Djokovic said he understood the important role that vaccines and mass participation in vaccination programs played in getting the world beyond Covid-19, but he remained reluctant to take one.

Djokovic’s biggest rivals at the top of the sport and in the hunt for the most career Grand Slam men’s singles titles, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, were vaccinated as soon as they became eligible and were candid about its importance.

The men’s and women’s professional tours and other major tennis governing bodies do not require players to be vaccinated and have instead chosen to follow the rules where their tournaments are held.

Djokovic took part in a tournament in Dubai last month. He lost a quarter-final match to Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic. This defeat, combined with the recent success of Daniil Medvedev of Russia and the inactivity of Djokovic this year, caused Djokovic to drop to #2 in the world rankings after nearly two years in the top spot.

Djokovic announced this week that he is parting ways with longtime coach Marian Vajda.

Unless US entry rules change immediately, Djokovic will miss two important tournaments over the next month – the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., and the Miami Open. These events are as important as any other on the tennis calendar except for the four Grand Slam tournaments.

Britain, the site of Wimbledon earlier this summer, began relaxing its rules around vaccination and masking in January, and it’s likely Djokovic will be able to defend his championship there.

While Covid-19 waned before, only to return with a variant that scuttled hopes for a quick end to the pandemic, French Prime Minister Jean Castex told French TV channel TF1 that the government had decided to no longer require proof of vaccination for participation in most activities, especially indoors, as “the situation is improving”.

The changes, part of the government’s gradual easing of restrictions in recent months, would begin just over a month before the presidential election.

New daily coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have been fall in France since early February. Castex said masks and proof of full vaccination would no longer be mandatory in places such as restaurants, bars, shops, cinemas and museums. Masks will still be mandatory on public transport, and people will need to show proof of full vaccination, recovery or a negative test to enter health care facilities like nursing homes. Vaccination mandates for health workers will still be valid, he added.

Aurelien Breeden contributed reporting from Paris.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Novak Djokovic may be able to play at Roland Garros after Covid decision
Novak Djokovic may be able to play at Roland Garros after Covid decision
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